In a sound booth at Orchestra Hall, Melissa Ousley watched the stage on video monitors while preparing for a Minnesota Orchestra broadcast in 2017. (Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace)

When Classical Minnesota Public Radio broadcasts the opening program of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 2019-20 season Sept. 20, a new voice will be behind the microphone.

Melissa Ousley has been chosen to fill the seat vacated by Classical MPR managing director Brian Newhouse, who stepped down in June after hosting the regular Friday-evening live relays for more than 25 years.

Ousley started her career as a classical host and producer at Radio Kansas. Before joining MPR, she worked at WCAL in Northfield — the classical station that MPR bought in 2004 and turned into adult-alternative 89.3 the Current.

She has regularly deputized for Newhouse in recent years, and will continue her work as fill-in host for both Classical MPR and the Classical24 service.

Live hosting involves considerably more than telling listeners which works are being played and reading out the names of the performers, she says.

“I love the idea that you're taking the listener into a space and letting them hear and even “see” what's going on. I feel privileged to be able to play a small part in sharing what the musicians do so well with our listeners.”

The relationship between MPR and the Minnesota Orchestra stretches back nearly half a century. Among major U.S. orchestras, only the Boston Symphony has a live-broadcast series that has lasted longer than this partnership. 

The orchestra’s president and CEO, Michelle Miller Burns, welcomed Ousley’s appointment: “Her warmth and authentic style and her credibility as a musical storyteller make her a great fit for this role.”